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462
SCOTLAND, CHURCH OF

influential of the nobility and gentry, and was carried on the crest of a great national movement. The Covenant was accepted by parliament in 1639.

The succeeding decennium is the culminating period of Scottish Presbyterianism, when, having successfully resisted the crown, it not only was supreme in Scotland but exercised a decisive influence over England. The causes which brought about this state of affairs are to be sought to a large extent in the civil history of England. Presbytery was rapidly growing in that country, and the English parliament sought the alliance of the assembly, while the Independents, though in the event Presbytery was as little to their liking as Episcopacy, joined in the wish to get rid of the episcopal system. In its period of triumph the Presbyterianism of Scotland displayed its character. After the injustice and persecution it had suffered it could scarcely prove moderate or tolerant; it showed a vehement determination to carry out the truth it had vindicated with such enthusiasm, to the full extent and wherever possible. The Covenant, at first a standard of freedom, was immediately converted into a test and made the instrument of oppression and persecution. All policy was to be determined by the Covenant; the king and every official was to be obliged to take it. The mind of the nation being so preoccupied with the Covenant, it naturally followed that those who carried their fanaticism farthest were ready to denounce and to unchurch those who showed any inclination to moderation and political sanity, and that the beginnings of schism soon appeared in the ranks of the Covenanters.

In 1643, when the full legal establishment of Presbytery had just been consummated, the assembly, asked by the English Westminster confession. parliament to arrange a league to be signed in both countries for the furtherance of reformed religion, agreed, but asked that the league should be a religious one. The result was the Solemn League and Covenant. The league did not mention Presbyterianism; but the assembly had refused to hear of any recognition of independency; if religion were thoroughly reformed, they considered the result must be Presbyterianism in England as in Scotland. In the Westminster Standards also, which were the fruit of the Scottish desire for a religious uniformity, Scotland did not obtain by any means all it desired in its church documents. The Scottish divines in the Westminster Assembly were only five in number, while the assembly contained effective parties of Erastians and Independents. The Confession of Faith contains no approval of any system of church government, and when she adopted it in 1647 the kirk gave up her old confession in which the principles at least of true church order are laid down. In accepting in 1645 the Westminster Directory of Public Worship she tacitly gave up her own liturgy which had been in use till recently, and committed herself to a bald and uninviting order of worship, in which no forms of prayer were allowed to be used. So much did Scotland for the sake of uniformity accept from England. The metrical psalms also, which are still sung in Scottish churches, were adopted at this time; they are based mainly on the version, which had been approved by the Westminster Assembly, of Francis Rouse (1579-1659), a member of the English House of Commons.

The engagement made with Charles, then a prisoner in the Isle of Wight in 1647, which promised him support on condition of his sanctioning the Solemn League and Covenant and pledging himself to set up after three years a church according to the Confession of Faith, was protested against by the assembly; and from this came the famous “Act of Classes” by which the Covenanters disqualified for public office and even for military service all who had been parties to the engagement. The rescinding of this act in 1651 led to a serious breach in the ranks of the Scottish clergy. The Resolutioners, or supporters of the resolution to rescind that act, were opposed by the Protesters, the rigid adherents to the strictest interpretation of the Covenant. The period of the Commonwealth was filled with the strife between these two parties, its bitterness not lessened by the fact that the assembly dissolved in 1653 by Cromwell's soldiers was not allowed to meet again in his protectorate. The Protesters, who were in favour with the common people, are chargeable with having brought into Scottish church life the observance of fast-days, and of the long and excited Communion services which were kept up for two and a half centuries and may still be witnessed in the Highlands.

If the mismanagement of Scottish religious affairs under James and Charles I. is a melancholy story, what took place under Struggle against Episcopacy. Charles II. is infinitely sadder. A series of blunders was committed in the attempt to compel Scotland to submit to the religion the government prescribed, and the failure of each measure was followed by more inhuman severities. Detail is impossible here. From the first Charles showed himself determined to force Episcopalianism on Scotland, and not too scrupulous in the choice of methods for securing his ends. The attempt was nearly successful. In the greater part of the country little change took place in the religious services. The service book was not read nor kneeling at communion required, and it made no immediate difference to the people that the clergy should be under bishops. The inferior church courts still sat, though not the assembly. At the Restoration it was a question whether the bulk of the population was in favour of Presbytery or of Episcopacy. But the matter was handled in such a way in the west of Scotland that an extreme Covenanting spirit arose, nourished on intolerable grievances, and that the nation as a whole decided against the system which had been promoted by such means.

The Rescissory Act of 1661 swept away the legislation of the preceding twenty years, and so disposed of the Presbyterian polity of the church. Episcopacy was restored by a letter from the king on the 5th of September 1661. James Sharp (q.v.), Fairfoul, James Hamilton (1610-1674) and Robert Leighton (q.v.) were the new bishops; Sharp and Leighton having to be ordained as deacons, then as priests, before the consecration, and the party travelling to Scotland in state, though Leighton left them before crossing the border. An act requiring all ministers appointed during the period when patronage was abolished to get presentation from their patrons and institution from their bishops was applied in the west of Scotland in such a way that 300 ministers left their manses. Their places were filled with less competent men whom the people did not wish to hear, and so conventicles began to be held. The attempts to suppress these, the harsh measures taken against those who attended them or connived at them, or refused to give information against them, the military violence and the judicial severities, the confiscations, imprisonments, tortures, expatriations, all make up a dreadful narrative. Indulgences were tried, and were successful in bringing back about 100 ministers to their parishes and introducing a new cause of division among the clergy. On the other hand, the Covenanting spirit rose higher and higher among the persecuted till the armed risings took place and the formal rebellion of a handful of desperate men against the ruler of three kingdoms. The story of Richard Cameron (q.v.) is one of the highest romantic heroism; his name was perpetuated in that of the Cameronian body (“first-born of the Scottish sects”), which, as the Reformed Presbyterian Church, kept up a separate existence till 1876, when it united with the Free Church, and in that of the Cameronian regiment, originally formed from his followers after his death and distinguished since in every part of the world. The proclamation of toleration in 1685 was intended mainly for Roman Catholics and excluded field preachers.

When William landed in England in 1688, the scene changed in Scotland. The soldiery was withdrawn from the west, Revolution of 1688. and the people at once showed their feelings by the “rabbling” or ejection of the curates who occupied the manses of the ousted ministers, in which, however no lives were lost. William would have decided for Episcopacy in Scotland, as the great body of the nobles and gentry adhered to it, but only on condition that the Episcopalians agreed to support him and that they had the people with them. Neither of these conditions was fulfilled. On the 22nd of July